The Yoni: Why We Need To Rethink Female Health

Why ‘Yoni’ is an important term, even if not the perfect one, that brings to light a new concept of female health.

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Tanya Hefner on Unsplash

What Is ‘Yoni’?

Yoni is a Sanskrit word, often interpreted as ‘sacred temple’, or interpreted literally to mean the womb, and female organs:

A Problem in Science

In Angela Saini’s magnificent book Inferior, she outlines in detail the way biases in scientific practice have undermined our understanding of female health. A study published in 2012, by psychologist Corinne Moss-Racusin and a team of researchers at Yale University, explored the problem of bias in scientific culture itself. A hundred scientists were asked to assess a resume, half given a female name and half a male name. When asked to comment,

We Don’t Fully Understand Our Sexuality

Alongside female biology is the much murkier question of sexuality. Not in terms of preference, but in terms of practice. The narrative of women as sexually submissive or less promiscuous than men is one that has been in embedded in the culture. The two have always come hand in hand — a suggestions that we are built a certain way, for a certain purpose. Both of these avenues require a fair amount of reassessment.

Putting the Alternative into Alternative Health

For those who aren’t familiar, ‘yoni massage’ is the practice of seeing a practitioner who will use massage techniques to discover and work through blockages in the body. This is a non-sexual touch, designed to assist women in pinpointing the places in which trauma, numbness, and other concerns are experienced physically in the body. By touching, and this can include ‘internal work’, women are supposedly given the opportunity to better understand their own bodies — the effects abuse, violation, violence, consent or lack thereof, illness, numbness, etc, have within the body itself. Juliet Allen’s Authentic Sex podcast does a relatively good job at introducing this practice, but doesn’t really talk through any of the medical information you might want to know before you commit. In fact, this podcast from the V Word is a very informative and purely medical discussion of the vagina, and is extremely important listening for ladies who just aren’t sure what’s going on down there.

We Need Ideas… Like What ‘Yoni’ Represents, But Better

Yoni isn’t a perfect term. It isn’t scientific. It isn’t descriptive. And we, as women, do need scientific practice to consider us more equitably. We need to better understand our biology. But in the meantime, we stand to gain from acknowledging the multiplicity of femaleness. We stand to gain from knowing that our bodies are not merely the physical — because they aren’t. Our bodies are interpreted, objectified, and layered with meanings that have very little to do with us as individuals. And a lot to do with society, its development and its values.

Written by

Trying to live better. Writing on Mental Health, Relationships, and Living Ethically. Editor/Podcaster.

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